Look, I know you’re all busy, but let’s just take a minute today and celebrate Judge Robert A. Hendrickson and the 12th District Court of Appeals in Ohio.
These defenders of punctuation.
These champions of copy editors everywhere.
That one court that totally called out a village ordinance for its comma-related failings.
(Pretty great, right?)
Here’s what happened, according to court documents. Back in February 2014, Andrea Cammelleri was cited for a violation when she left her pickup truck parked on a street in West Jefferson, Ohio.
That was because an ordinance in the village stated it was illegal to park “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” on a street for more than 24 hours.
At a bench trial, Cammelleri argued that “the ordinance did not apply because the language prohibits a motor vehicle camper from being parked on the street for an extended period of time.”
That’s: Motor vehicle camper.
Not: Motor vehicle, camper.
“The trial court held that when reading the ordinance in context, it unambiguously applied to motor vehicles and ‘anybody reading [the ordinance] would understand that it is just missing a comma,'” court documents state.
Cammelleri was initially convicted, according to the Columbus Dispatch, but filed an appeal.
She pointed out that the ordinance prohibited “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” from daylong parking and argued that her truck is not a “motor vehicle camper.”
The village argued that the lack of a comma separating motor vehicle from camper was a typo and did not invalidate her violation. But the court sided with Cammelleri. Grammar counts, the judges said.
“By utilizing rules of grammar and employing the common meaning of terms, ‘motor vehicle camper’ has a clear definition that does not produce an absurd result,” Hendrickson wrote in his ruling. “If the village desires a different reading, it should amend the ordinance and insert a comma between the phrase ‘motor vehicle’ and the word ‘camper.'”
YEAH, VILLAGE. TAKE THAT.
(But seriously, if anyone in West Jefferson needs any more guidance, I have some recommended reading.)
Here’s the ruling: